Steve Clarke rounds on Scotland critics - 'some people like the sound of their own voice and like to sound clever'

Steve Clarke believes those pundits criticising him and his players following last Wednesday’s World Cup exit should know better than deliver such knee-jerk reactions.

The Scotland manager dismissed the more extreme among them as “liking the sound of their own voice”

In some cases, Clarke has been criticised by fellow managers and those who were once in his position of holding the nation’s hopes in his hands, with all the attendant pressure that brings.

Craig Levein, who was manager of Scotland between 2009 and 2012, said on radio that last Wednesday’s 3-1 defeat to Ukraine had been “a bad night” for Clarke in terms of team selection and tactics. Former Aberdeen manager Willie Miller also said that he didn’t understand why he hadn’t changed things earlier.

Scotland manager Steve Clarke.

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Many more critics have taken issue with Clarke’s reluctance to switch from a back three even when Kieran Tierney is injured, as was the case against Ukraine. The Arsenal full-back will also be missing as Scotland kick off their Nations League campaign against Armenia at Hampden Park tonight.

Clarke has questioned why anyone would want big changes after a qualifying campaign when they won seven out of ten matches.

Scotland were also unbeaten in their last eight games before a disappointing night against Ukraine.

“Playing with a back three has worked out quite well for us with or without Kieran,” Clarke said. “Even in matches without Kieran it has worked OK. Maybe the reason I went to a back three was to make us more solid initially as much as it was about getting Kieran and Andy in the same team.

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“The back three has worked all right for us. I am not sure what the clamour for change is, maybe because some people like the sound of their own voice and like to sound clever.”

He said he was “really good” at ignoring such surrounding noise. “I go to my wee happy place,” he said. “I’m not telling you where it is! But it’s in my head.”

“It’s part of the job,” he added.

“They can have their opinion. They have been there so they should know what it’s about. I’m not getting dragged into it. I don’t like to comment on pundits because they are paid to give an opinion.”